Transurethral Resection of Bladder

Front view cross section of bladder showing cystoscope inserted through urethra to bladder.

This procedure may be called a transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) or transurethral resection (TUR). Small pieces of tissue, called samples, are taken from inside of your bladder. This is called a bladder biopsy. The samples are then tested in a lab. This procedure  is done to help find the cause of a bladder problem, such as bladder cancer. If the tumors are very small and haven't spread deep into the bladder wall, TURBT may be the only treatment.

Preparing for the procedure

Follow the directions you were given to prepare for the procedure. Also:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take. This includes any over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, and other supplements. Be sure to include any blood thinners, such as warfarin, clopidogrel, or daily aspirin. You may need to stop taking some or all of your medicines before surgery.

  • Your healthcare providers may tell you not to eat or drink during the hours before your procedure. (If you have been instructed to take medicines, take them with a small sip of water.)

The day of the procedure

The procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll likely go home the same day.

Before the procedure begins

What to expect before the procedure:

  • A small tube called an IV (intravenous) is put into a vein in your arm or hand. This tube is used to give you fluids and medicines (such as antibiotics).

  • To keep you free of pain during the procedure, you might be given medicine called anesthesia. You may be given general anesthesia. This medicine puts you into a deep sleep. when you get general anesthesia, you will need to have a breathing tube put in and be placed on a breathing machine. Or you may be given spinal anesthesia. This medicine numbs your body only from the waist down. In some cases, local anesthesia is used. This medicine numbs only the area being treated.

During the procedure

What to expect during the procedure:

  • A special tool called a cystoscope (scope) is used. This is a thin, lighted tube with a tiny lens on the end to see inside the bladder. The healthcare provider puts it into your bladder through the urethra. The urethra is a thin tube in your body that urine passes through. It connects the bladder to the outside of your body.

  • Water is sent through the scope to fill the bladder. This stretches the bladder to give the healthcare provider a better view of the inside lining.

  • A long, thin surgical tool is passed through the scope into the bladder. It's used to remove small samples of tissue from the bladder lining and the muscle wall right under it. An electric tool may be used to stop any bleeding.

  • When the procedure is complete, all tools are removed and the bladder is drained.

  • A thin tube (Foley catheter) may be put in your bladder to drain urine while the bladder heals.

After the procedure

You’ll be taken to a room to rest until the anesthesia wears off. If a breathing tube was used, your throat might be sore at first. You might be given medicines to manage pain and prevent infection. After a few hours, you’ll be able to go home. Have an adult family member or friend ready to drive you.

Recovering at home

Once you’re home, be as active as you comfortably can. Get up and walk around, but avoid exercise or heavy activities until you feel better. You can likely return to your normal routine in 1 to 2 days. If you go home with a catheter, care for it as directed. And follow any special instructions your healthcare provider gave you.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain or trouble breathing (call 911) 

  • A fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Pain that’s not controlled with medicine

  • Trouble urinating or being unable to urinate

  • Bloody urine for more than 48 hours


You’ll have a follow-up visit with your healthcare provider in about 7 days. During this visit, your healthcare provider will discuss the results of your biopsy. You and your healthcare provider will also discuss any treatments that might be needed.

Ricks and possible complications

Risks of this procedure include:

  • Pain or burning when urinating for a day or so after the procedure (this is normal)

  • Bleeding or blood in the urine

  • Infection

  • Damage to the bladder wall (may require temporary catheter drainage or further repair)

  • Narrowing of the urethra

  • Risks of anesthesia. You will discuss these with the anesthesiologist.

Talk with your healthcare provider about what you can expect this procedure to be like. Be sure you understand what problems you should watch for and know how to reach the healthcare provider after hours and on weekends.